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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Next gen Retina display MacBook Pros are rumored to be delayed until October. Photo: Peter McCollough/Wired
Each week, there are dozens of Apple rumors, reports, and patent filings that hint at what’s coming out of Cupertino next. Some are legit, but most are totally bogus. We parse the week’s rumors for you, ranking them in order from “utterly ridiculous” to “Duh, of course.” First up…
VERY DOUBTFUL: Apple discontinuing iPhone 5 in favor of iPhone 5S, cheap version
Korean ETnews.com (via MacRumors) reports that Apple is going to ditch iPhone 5 production this fall, instead pouring its efforts into the iPhone 5S and a purported cheaper plastic model.
While it would make sense for Apple to ditch the iPhone 4 and 4S in order to move to an exclusively Lightning dock connector product line, it would surprise me if the company completely abandoned production of the iPhone 5 given their current tiered lineup of iPhone models. Apple is seeing a lot of success with the free (on contract) iPhone 4 among price-conscious consumers.
ASK AGAIN LATER: Apple to ship Haswell-powered Retina MacBook Pros in October rather than September
Apple’s next iteration of MacBook Pros may not ship until October, according to a report from the China Times
(via AppleInsider). Part of the reason is yield problems with the Retina display models, something that’s been an issue with its high resolution displays from the beginning.
It’s possible that Apple could introduce new MacBook Pros at an event in September, but not have them ship until October. When Apple unveiled its latest iMacs, the 21.5-inch model didn’t begin shipping until November and the 27-inch began shipping in December.
SIGNS POINT TO YES: Apple’s Q4 guidance implies iPhone launch by late September
Apple provided financial guidance for its upcoming quarter during its earnings call on Tuesday. Based on Apple’s proposed revenues, financial analyst Walter Piecyk of BTIG’s thinks Apple will be debuting its new iPhone (and other products) before September 28. It certainly makes sense.
Tim Cook has said, on more than one occasion, that Apple has some “really great stuff coming in the fall” and in 2014. Last year, the iPhone 5 was released in late September. While Apple could feasibly debut its new fall products in October, these signs make it seem like September is far more likely. (But, as we mentioned above, some products could be introduced in September but not ship until October or later.)
WITHOUT A DOUBT: Apple testing iPhones and iPads with larger screen sizes
Doesn’t this go without saying? Apple is constantly testing devices with different form factors and different screen sizes. Before the iPad debuted in 2009, Apple was rumored to be testing a tablet in three different sizes. The company has since decided that a smaller 8-inch tablet is a welcome addition to its iPad lineup. And of course, Apple did decide that a 4-inch iPhone was more optimal in today’s smartphone environment than the 3.5-inch size of the iPhone 4S and its predecessors.
Whether or not larger iPhones or iPads ever actually surface, I would be incredibly surprised if Apple hasn’t seriously toyed with the idea.

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iphone_4s_siriApple on Tuesday posted its earnings report for the third quarter of its fiscal year 2013, beating Wall Street estimates and hinting at “amazing” new products that will arrive this fall and next year.
For the three-month period ending on June 29, 2013, Apple announced revenue of $35.3 billion, and net profit of $6.9 billion, or $7.47 per share. While revenue was up compared to the same period last year ($35 million), net profit was down ($8.8 billion, or $9.32 per share in Q3 FY2012).
When it comes to device sales, the company announced it sold 31.2 million iPhones, a record number for the June quarter, and a solid increase compared to the year ago quarter (26 million).
During the Q3 FY2013 earnings call, Apple revealed that the iPhone 5 is “by far the most popular iPhone,” although iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S sales are also pleasing. The sixth-generation iPhone is apparently the number one U.S. smartphone with 39% market share, and it’s in a similar position in Japan.
According to IDC, quoted by Apple, the iPhone is apparently number one or two in most markets.
iTunes has apparently generated $4.3 billion in billings, while quarterly revenue for the App Store was at $2.4 billion for the period.
The company announced some iOS-related stats as well, including over 320 million iCloud accounts, over 240 million Game Center accounts and mentioned that its iMessage service has delivered 900 billion iMessages, iOS users shared 125 million photos, while push notifications hit the 8 trillion mark. The App Store currently has 900,000 apps, 375,000 of them being optimized for the iPad, with developers having been paid 11 billion dollars to date.
When asked whether the high-end smartphone market has reached a saturation or not, Tim Cook said that he doesn’t believe the high-end market has reached a peak. However, Apple admitted that the iPhone ASP (average sales price has) decreased sequentially by around $27.
Apple also said that it experienced “accelerated” iPhone 4 sales as it offered “more affordable pricing in emerging markets.” According to the company, India was up 400 percent, while Turkey and Poland rose 60 percent each, when it comes to mixed iPhone sales.
Other markets, including China and Hong Kong, did not show growth in the iPhone sector, with Apple focusing during the earnings call on sell-through for the device in those regions rather than actual sales.
Apple sold 14.6 million iPads and 3.8 million Macs during the period, both numbers down compared to last year (17 million iPads and 5 million Macs).
When talking about a decreased number of iPad sales compared with the same period last year, Cook said that last year, the company’s Q3 FY2012 was the first full quarter of selling a new iPad model, unlike this year, when Apple is yet to announce one.
He also added that according to the most recent data available to him, the iPad accounts for 84 percent of web traffic for tablets. Cook took a hit at the competition saying that he doesn’t know what the other tablets are used for.
Apple also reminded us that the Mac Pro will be available later this fall, and OS X Mavericks will also be launched later this year.
Interestingly, Cook expressed his excitement for the new products that will arrive this fall and into 2014, but he did not mention anything in particular:
“We are especially proud of our record June quarter iPhone sales of over 31 million and the strong growth in revenue from iTunes, Software and Services. We are really excited about the upcoming releases of iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks, and we are laser-focused and working hard on some amazing new products that we will introduce in the fall and across 2014.”
When asked about an iPhone trade-in program – something that Apple has been reported to consider for the future – he didn’t make any specific comment on the matter, but he did say that he’s not against it.
When an analyst asked whether there are any new product categories that “are big enough to move the needle for Apple,” Cook mysteriously answered that the company is working on stuff it’s proud of, which will be announced when ready. The Verge
hinted that the discussion may have been about the rumored Apple television set.
When asked whether there are any new products shipping this quarter, Apple’s Peter Oppenheimer said the company would not comment on the matter.
Apple is said to launch several new products in the following months including an iPhone 5S, a low-cost iPhone, a fifth-generation iPad and second-generation iPad mini and the new Mac Pro, although it’s not clear when these devices will hit stores. And there are also those rumors that mention some brand new products for the company including an iWatch smartwatch and an Apple television set.

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Apple iWatch aiming for 2014 launchApple is aggressively hiring new employees to help launch its first wearable — the so-called iWatch — for sometime in 2014, according to multiple reports.
Financial Times reported about Apple’s recent hiring spree for the iWatch, which indicates that some outside talent was required for such a new-type of product. For more than a decade now, Apple has engineered iPods, iPhones and iPads using its in-house expertise, but apparently, the iWatch is proving to be a tad difficult.
“As Apple moves from iPods, iPhones and iPads into an entirely new category of product, it is looking beyond its existing staff in Cupertino for the talent required to build it – an indication that the endeavour involves “hard engineering problems that they’ve not been able to solve”, according to one source.”
The iWatch has been in the rumor mill for sometime now, with more than 100 designers reportedly being put on the job to make it another iconic device from the world’s most valuable computer company. One notable designer, Paul Deneve, the former CEO of fashion house Yves Saint Laurent, was hired for the special project. Deneve could also be possibly pegged for other wearable devices, such as a competitor to Google’s Glass computing glasses.
The iWatch name has already been trademarked in several countries, including Brazil and Japan.
Many Apple fans have questioned how an iWatch would work. Would it simply be a Bluetooth peripheral that talks with the iPhone in one’s pocket? Would it have data? Or would it would rely on a hard drive? The former seems like a better bet.
Apple wants to sell one iWatch — not a device that comes in 32 GB, 64 GB or 128 GB. So it’s very likely the iWatch will simply communicate with an iPhone — perhaps with an in-house type of Bluetooth technology that doesn’t drain an iPhone’s battery as drastically.
But if the iWatch is designed to simply be a notification center on one’s wrist, it’s not going to be a hit. No one wants to type on a small watch face; the iPhone is already difficult enough to type on.
If these reports prove to be true, expect to see the iWatch in an Apple Store near you sometime in mid-2014.

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Educating employees before they move countries is obviously a noble undertaking. Unfortunately some of the advice handed out can come across as a little unnecessary and condescending when read out of context. Still, Microsoft should be awarded an A for effort.
The United States and the United Kingdom are long-time friends. The two countries share a language, a homogeneous, multi-cultural population and a love for one another’s cultures. And yet despite all this the U.S. and the U.K. are very different countries.
Microsoft has recognized this fact, and so rather than send American workers to the U.K, ill-advised and unprepared, the company has produced a guidebook for these employees to read before they make the trip over the pond into a new life. As a Brit myself, some of the guide makes for amusing reading.
The pamphlet is titled A Guide To Working & Living in Cambridge
(Cambridge being the city housing Microsoft Research’s UK facility). It helpfully informs incoming workers that firearms and drugs are illegal in the U.K. It also suggests that while the NHS is indeed free, the “main disadvantage” to this in practice is that there can “occasionally be long waits for certain treatments.”
Next on the list is the humble pub, which is “more than a plain bar,” instead being “homely places full of historical character (and characters!).” And don’t forget chippies, which sell the “national treat of fish, e.g. cod, fried in a crispy batter.”
More differences are outlined, such as terms for housing and the higher price of petrol in Europe. All stuff which an incoming American worker needs to know, but which sounds rather odd when spelled out so blandly in a handbook of this nature.
Despite my slightly mocking tone, American Bridget Hannigan, who moved to the U.K. in 1988, told BBC News, “[This guide is] not a bad thing. If someone has just been transported here I think this could be helpful. There are a lot of differences. It took me about three months to adjust.”

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Better Place gets its Israeli battery swap system up and runningBetter Place has one of the more unique ways of dealing with exhausted electric car batteries.  While it does offer charging stations which take quite a while to charge your battery, it also offers the option of simply switching it out.  A 100 car fleet of electric vehicles will now begin testing the infrastructure which stretches across Israel.
Way back in 2008, we reported on Better Place’s partnership with France, Israel and Denmark to install battery swap and charging stations.  The company also partnered with Renault to create electric cars with easily swapped out batteries.  According to Technology Review the company just received the first 100 Renault Fluence Z E (Zero Emission) electric vehicles that will be used in Israel to demonstrate Better Place’s battery swap technology. 
The process works as follows:
1.  A Renault Fluence Z E alerts its driver that the battery is low.  2.  The driver consults her navigation app that shows where to find the closest battery swap station.3.  The driver drives to the nearest station and pulls into the battery swap bay.4.  The used battery is removed and a fully charged battery is installed all from below the vehicle using a robotic process.  It takes about the same amount of time that it takes to fill up a gas tank.5.  The driver exits the bay and continues on her way.The battery swap technology makes long trips much easier than having to plug into a charging station every so often for a fifteen minute to four hour charging process.  Instead you pull in for a matter of minutes and continue driving until you need another swap.  Of course there are charging stations available as well that allow for charging overnight and while shopping, working, sightseeing or dining.
The Renault Fluence Z E uses  “225-kilogram lithium-ion batteries with a range of 160 kilometers”(about 100 miles).  The cars will be initially leased only by Better Place employees.  Once the kinks have been worked out of the system, Better Place will offer others the option of leasing a Fluence  through another company and using battery swap technology and charging stations through a subscription service.
Better Place signed a leasing agreement with The Eldan Group, the largest car rental group in Israel, back in December.  Eldan will “acquire hundreds of Renault Fluence Z.E. electric cars from Better Place in 2012.”  Companies and private customers that sign up for electric cars will also sign for a membership subscription with Better Place for use of the charging infrastructure and Customer Care. Fossil Fuels are extremely expensive in Israel, as are taxes on fossil fuel vehicles. So switching to an electric vehicle will be an attractive option for many. 
Better Place is the only company that provides battery swap technology for its customers.  Coulomb, GE and other charging infrastructure companies are building charging stations in various parts of the world, but only Better Place gives you a quick way to simply “swap and go” when needed.
Above Photo from Better Place.
Tags: battery swap stations, Better Place, charging stations, Denmark, electric car, electric vehicle, France, Israel, Renault, The Eldan Group Posted on: January 28th, 2012 by Susan Wilson
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UK Ministry of Defense installs wind farm proof radarThe UK Ministry of Defense is installing radar that is imperious to wind farms.  Previously wind farm applications were denied because they were too close to radar towers that were adversely affected by wind turbine blades.  The new radar installations don’t have that problem which will allow more wind farms to be built.
According to the Ministry of Defense, Lockheed Martin’s TPS-77 radar was installed and tested along the Norfolk coast.  The test results showed that Lockheed Martin’s radar system was indeed able to shut out “clutter” associated with the turning turbine blades on wind farms, thus allowing five new wind farms to be built.  Those five wind farms should generate and additional 3.3 GW of renewable energy. 
Two more installations will go up in Northumberland and Yorkshire.  All total, the two additional installations should allow an additional 750 MW of wind energy.  The cost of installing the new improved radar systems will be paid by energy companies.
Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans Andrew Robathan said:
"The MOD was instrumental in convincing the energy companies to collaborate and jointly fund the cost of the radar, meeting operational requirements and ultimately enabling the generation of more renewable energy. This is good news for all parties to this arrangement."
Energy Minister Charles Hendry said:
"We must rapidly increase the levels of homegrown clean energy produced in the UK. Wind farms and other forms of renewable energy will help boost our energy security, and ultimately our national security. I am pleased that an outcome has been reached that is beneficial to our national security, energy security and decarbonisation goals."
Lockheed Martin had previously test this radar system “at land-based wind farms near the company’s outdoor test range in Cazenovia, NY, as well as in trials with the Horns Rev offshore wind farm in the North Sea.”  The radar worked well.  Another great feature of new radar system is that it uses “just half the power of comparable S-band radars.”  So not only will it allow more renewable energy installations in the United Kingdom, it is also more energy efficient than many other radar systems.
The new radar has proven that it will work in both the US and UK.  That should allow additional wind farms to be built on both sides of the Atlantic without compromising defense security.  This is great news as more and more installations are planned for both countries.  By the end of 2015, the UK is expecting to have over 1000 offshore wind turbines installed. This should also help the Cape Wind project that has been fighting regulations and objections for years. 
Lockheed Martin’s TSA-77 will allow more renewable energy installations.  It is also greener than other radar systems making it pretty green as well.
Posted on: January 27th, 2012 by Susan Wilson
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